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Posts Tagged ‘shamrock rovers’

THE ORGANIC HERO

In Soccerball on June 3, 2010 at 10:10

Corporatisation has ruined sport. The guy who signs the broadcasting cheques is the real boss of modern era sport. Gone are the days when all professional sport was played on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon. Now, there is a massive variety of sport broadcast live 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Money obsessed corporations have insisted on round-the-clock sports coverage and this over-exposure of commercialised sport has ruined the appetite of many sports fans.

However, not all sport is the work of the devil. True sporting heroes and heroines still exist. They can be found living next door to you, on the next street, the other side of the village, in the next town or even in your own house. Hats off to every man, woman and child who gives up three evenings a week after a hard day’s work to train, and a further afternoon at the weekend to play their respective sport. They don’t get paid, they don’t receive free gear and equipment, and they don’t receive endorsements. They volunteer their bodies and efforts for a cause they believe in. They sweat for the good of their parish. They do it for the combat, the challenge, the intensity, the competition, the camaraderie.

Participating with their local club or society draws people out of their houses, away from their computers, off their sofas, and out into the fresh air, mixing with other people, and plotting their rival’s downfall at the weekend. Training, perfecting, honing. Sport gives people an escape, an outlet to vent frustrations, let off some steam.

The excesses in modern professional sport are to be deplored. Cheating is rife amongst elite sportspeople. More and more tales of corruption are leaking all the time. There is little doubt that many sports are rife with drug abuse. Cheats win. Check out David Walsh’s investigations about Lance Armstrong and his cycling teammates. The end result: Game over.

Amateur sport is the new dawn. There is a real sense of community when it is my street against your street – my parish against your parish – my village against your village – my county against your county. Whatever the sport, the competition is of the same intensity. An overwhelming sense of belonging exists at amateur level. You and I losing a match against those people over there hurts much more than Manchester United losing to Chelsea. It’s tribalism at its purest. Sport played with passion, heart, commitment and courage wins out every time. A sense of place – a place in your community.

So why buy a sporting hero? Nothing beats growing your own.

Shamrock Rovers v Celtic XI

In Soccerball on February 24, 2010 at 11:10

Shamrock Rovers 1 (Stephen Bradley pen 11)

Glasgow Celtic 1 (Paul Caddis 71)

A youthful and talented Celtic reserve side gave Shamrock Rovers a good pre-season workout at a soggy and wintry Tallaght Stadium on Tuesday night.

Rovers started the match brightly in front of a full-house when Dessie Baker rounded the keeper close to the touchline but his chip into the centre of the box caught Graham Barrett offside. Moments later Celtic centre half Declan Gallagher clumsily took down Barrett inside the Celtic area. The pointed to the spot amid protestations from the Celtic players but a calm Stephen Bradley dispatched the penalty with confidence.

Celtic’s right winger, Paul Caddis, who has featured in the Glasgow side’s first team, was very lively down the Rovers left, keeping Pat Flynn on his toes for much of the first half.

Approaching the half-hour mark, some great play down Rovers right-hand side resulted in a deep cross which Barratt came close to connecting with, but goalkeeper Cervi got his hands to the greasy ball and held on well. The play sharply switched to the other end as Caddis sent a low ball across the face of the Rovers’ goal only for Dan Murray to put it behind for a corner under pressure from James Keating.

Celtic were finding their feet at this stage, and after a spell of prolonged pressure and possession around the Rovers box, a clever cross to the back post by Wilson was nodded behind for a corner by a towering Murray. Celtic kept up the pressure on the Rovers rearguard and with a ball not cleared properly Kris Vallers drove a low ball goalward which Mannus saved comfortably down to his right. First-teamer Caddis was threatening to cause all sorts of problems for Rovers and one of his mazy dribbles was thwarted by an illegal challenge from Murray. The resulting free kick was thumped goalward but Mannus did well to punch the ball to safety.

Celtic came out the stronger team after the half-time break. Caddis again was involved in everything Celtic were creating. He drilled a good low shot early into the second half which Mannus parried away to the right. Just after the hour mark Paul McGowan looked to have breached Rovers’ defence but last man Murray hauled down the youngster. In what would have been a red card under League Of Ireland conditions, only a free kick was awarded and Murray got a ticking off from the referee.

With just 19 minutes remaining,Paul Caddis struck to level the game for the visitors. Great sweeping play from the Glasgow side sprayed the ball from left to right. Scotland B international Mark Wilson found himself in an advanced position on the left-hand side of the Rovers’ penalty area and pulled the ball back to Caddis who dispatched the ball from 12 yards past the diving Mannus.

Celtic could have won the game late on when substitute Philip Tnardzik hit a left-foot curler from 20 yards which thumped against the bar.

Afterwards, Michael O’Neill was pleased with the game: “I think it was a useful workout. We’re playing against good young professionals who are in mid-season and I think in the second half that told a bit to be honest. But the purpose on the friendly was the level of game that we would expect and we certainly got that. It was a competitive game. I’m pleased with a lot of aspects of our game in the first half, we played some really decent stuff. In the second half, I’m not so pleased, though in the last 15 or 20 minutes we had better play.

“It is pre-season, and some players are ahead of others and you’ll always find that. Some of the lads look as if they’re ready to play tomorrow and others look as if they still need a bit of work.”

Celtic reserves manager Neil Lennon was also happy with the performance of his youngsters: “I’m pleased with that. They showed real maturity against a very good Shamrock Rovers side. To go a goal down we could have wilted but we didn’t. It was a real test of our character to play here in Dublin in front of a big crowd. The experience it has given us will do us the world of good.”

LOI — a hidden gem

In Soccerball on August 4, 2009 at 14:04

In years gone by, I had occasionally thrown an awkward glance at League of Ireland soccer, as do the majority of soccer fans in Ireland. I had attended a few St Pat’s games, swayed by the energetic enthusiasm of a friend who was a Saint through and through. I admit I enjoyed the experiences and with St Pat’s being my local club (well, the club whose ground was located closest to my childhood home), I formed a long-distance relationship with them.

In Ireland, our national league tends to receive a sneerful attitude from soccer fans who much prefer to follow the English Premier League and would happily pay €300 to take a trip across the Irish Sea to watch a game, yet scoff at attendees of local LOI games.

What a shame. As I found out on Sunday evening, the LOI is a hidden gem.

I attended the Shamrock Rovers and Derry City league game at Tallaght Stadium. This was my first LOI game in about six years, and I was impressed.

First of all, when I arrived outside the stadium about 30mins before kick off, there were hundreds of people milling around. I began thinking that Tallaght are really adopting Rovers and making them their local team. Once i entered the ground, I was shocked by the amount of people already in their seats. The stadium has only one stand open for business (the stadium is still under construction), and there were very few seats vacant.

Once the match began, the die-hard Rovers fans started chanting and singing. I was well impressed. They even have a song for former Manchester United recruit Dessie Baker! I was thinking that this was just like the Premier League, but on a smaller scale. These die-hards adore their club and the players. I found it difficult to take it in…it was surreal.

Rovers went into a 1-0 lead quite early on thanks to a stunning placed effort from Sean O’Connor which sailed into the top corner. The crowd went bananas. Straight away the “Yer never gonna believe us, we’re gonna win the league” chants began.

About 20 minutes later, a headed goal from Tadhg Purcell from a cross dug out brilliantly by Dessie Baker. Purcell struck me throughout the 90 minutes as a very good player, and one who may be good enough to ply a trade at Championship level in England.

The crowd wer in raptures at this point.

Derry suddenly woke up and applied some pressure and carved out a number of chances but in Barry Murphy, Rovers have a very competant goalkeeper. He might not be the tallest keeper around, but he has safe hands.

A minute into the second half, and Derry scored with a scorching drive from just outside the penalty box. Another great goal. The ground was silent.

Derry pressed and pressed, Rovers tried to make their counter-attacks work. It was a very good second-half, full of determination, courage, and some very nice football.

Humour seems to rank quite highly with the Rovers fans. Chants at the Derry team of “You’re Brits, and you know you are….you’re Brits, and you know you are….” were followed by “What’s it like to…what’s it like to…what’s it like to have a Queen? What’s it like…..”

Rovers hung on in the end to win 2-1, keeping themselves within three points of leaders Bohemians, and effectively ruining any chances Derry had of winning the league.

As I left the stadium, amid a chorus of 4,000 delirious Rovers fans bellowing “We’re gonna win the league”, I felt proud to be out supporting my national league and to have witnessed a great game of football so close to home.

I have a feeling that games of this stature and passion are very often witnessed in the League of Ireland and I want to make sure that I experience a bit more of that very soon. The passion and enthusiasm of the Shamrock Rovers crowd is to be commended and is infectious. The atmosphere was fantastic and I’m sure Derry were intimidated by it. Once the stand on the far side of the pitch is completed, Tallaght Stadium will be more like the fortress that the Chairman Jonathan Roche is hoping to create. Last, but not least, the football was pretty good too — not the hoof and chase game I was expecting at all.

What are your experiences of LOI soccer?